2022 NCAA Watch Party: Conference Weekend

Young Running Red-Hot Into Postseason

Young Running Red-Hot Into Postseason

All-American Kaleb Young went through a tough stretch early in the season, but he's been on a tear lately, winning eight straight matches entering March.

Feb 23, 2022 by Darren Miller
Young Running Red-Hot Into Postseason
The University of Iowa wrestling team looks to defend its Big Ten team title in a little more than a week. One of its hottest competitors is senior 157-pounder Kaleb Young.

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The University of Iowa wrestling team looks to defend its Big Ten team title in a little more than a week. One of its hottest competitors is senior 157-pounder Kaleb Young.

After knocking off eighth-ranked Peyton Robb of Nebraska, 6-3, on Sunday, Young enters the postseason with a record of 14-5 and riding a streak of eight consecutive victories. That matches heavyweight Tony Cassioppi for the longest winning stretch in the current Iowa lineup. The momentum comes at an opportune time with the two biggest events in college wrestling on the horizon.

“The Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships are why we came to Iowa,” said Young, a redshirt senior from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. “It is important to get ready to go and get on a roll heading into those two tournaments.”

Young’s victorious stretch began Jan. 9 with a 12-4 major decision over Cooper Noehre of Purdue. He followed that with wins against Northwestern, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, and now Nebraska. There is irony and symmetry that accompanies Young’s good fortune. During the 2019-20 season, Young went on a 13-match winning streak, the longest of his career. But in the final regular-season dual, he lost to Wyatt Sheets of Oklahoma State, then opened an 0-2 Big Ten Championships with a one-point loss to Robb.

Fast-forward to this season: Young handled Sheets, 4-1, in the Bout at the Ballpark in Dallas on Feb. 12 and doubled the score on Robb last Sunday, a pivotal match that lifted Iowa to a 20-15 dual decision.

“In my last two matches I have gotten two high-crotches and finished both of them, so that is a pretty good finish percentage,” Young said.

Young was runner-up at Big Tens last season after failing to place in 2020. He is 6-4 all-time at the Big Ten Championships and 8-4 at the NCAA Championships.

“When you are improving, you feel good about things,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said of Young, who is also his son-in-law. “He is improving and we are to the postseason now, so you only have a couple more chances to improve.” 

Riding a wave of momentum into March seemed like a longshot for Young back in November and into early January. During a seven-match stretch, he went 2-5 with three straight losses that included one by major decision and one by fall. He has righted the ship in a big way.  

Young has been around a wrestling mat long enough to know that what he did Feb. 20 will have little bearing on what happens March 4 and beyond. 

“Even guys who didn’t get their hand raised (at Nebraska) have to keep their mind straight and continue to get ready,” Young said. “We all have the same goal, we’re all going out there to win.” 

Winning is something the Hawkeyes have done more than any program the past three seasons. Since 2019-20, Iowa has gone 32-1 in dual meets while winning two Big Ten titles and one NCAA championship.